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But we have a choice-- they didn't.



During the retreat into Delaware, Washington's forces had destroyed all the boats they could on the Jersey side. They were hoping not to be pursued. But there were boats on the Delaware side. These, big heavy ugly things, bigger than in the famous picture. They were made to move stone down the Delaware river.

I have been to the river crossing place. I went there in winter, as was right. The water looked most unappealing.


When I went, there was a modern shed, made to hold replicas of the boats they used. And there was a house, a tidy two story house-- not grand, but warm. Here Washington lived and worked with the young men he called his 'family.' These were hand-picked clever young guys,his staff officers. Washington had a bed, in the house, the 'family' slept as they could, on the floor. I doubt any of them slept much.

There are two stones there, down in a sort of brambly ditch. (The kind that gets your feet wet and your socks full of burrs.) The stones commemorate the two men who died-- hypothermia, flu, bronchitis... no telling. Astonishing really that more did not die. You cannot fault the Hessians for being startled by the attack. It was one of those 'so crazy it just might work' things.

There is a sort of myth about the winter in Valley Forge, but the winter after the retreat from New York was worse. The weather was worse-- the men were fewer, they had had to abandon New York, leaving it in flames behind them, sneaking away in the night, leaving behind supplies they really needed.

The retreat through New Jersey was the lowest point, perhaps. They needed a win. And they got it too.

There is some sort of a myth going around that the Hessians were pushovers. If they had been they would not have been hired by anyone's army-- let alone the British army, which could pick and choose.  The men who faced them found them scary as hell. There is no reason to think that the Hessians were drunk, or otherwise impaired. They were far from home in a place they must have found very bleak.

The night attack was a terrible shock. They went right on into the Battle of Trenton, Christmas day.

Anyway-- here is the link.



http://www.delcotimes.com/lifestyle/20131209/retracing-george-washingtons-epic-delaware-river-crossing

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
ba1126
Dec. 26th, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Thanks!!that was interesting!!
serge_lj
Dec. 26th, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the post.
(And Happy Holidays!)
anteros_lmc
Dec. 27th, 2013 01:48 pm (UTC)
My knowledge of American history is so woefully non-existent that I know nothing about this event, so thank you for posting this. I've also never heard of the Hessian auxiliaries so I've learned a lot! :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )